To us, it’s nothing new that ebikes can be built so stealthy that barely anyone will know the difference between an electric bike and its pedal-only counterpart, and we are used to the idea of spandex-clad road bikers yelling: “Cheater!”
As an electric biker…when you look at the Gruber Assist, it is so small that it fits inside the seat tube, and almost to impossible to identify a Gruber-converted bike as an electric bike. It’s made in Germany, and since it’s so small it can be stuffed inside a seat tube, it just seems like pure e-bike porn.
Electric bikers do get treated with some disdain from regular bikers, who they share the lanes with. The Gruber Assist is a way you can pass those spandex-wearing fools, no matter what shape you are actually in or how you are dressed…and they will have no clue you are on electric bike… it’s brilliant!
The Gruber is made with “discreet” in mind.
In one of the hottest pieces of electric bike press to be aired in recent history there was an allegation of cheating in professional cycling, but this time it was not doping, but rather an allegation made against Fabian Cancellara for using an electric motor during his wins in the 2010 races the Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders. This unsurfaced via a piece of creative internet investigating technique, using a youtube video of the race, and an amateur editor critique:
Although most of the public (and also the professional cycling association) has dismissed the above video as not true. It did do a good job of putting a spotlight on an electric drive system that is totally stealthy for electric bike riders who want to hide their motor from friends when they’re on rides.
The Gruber Assist is a beautifully designed system that gives you a nice boost in a way that can’t be seen (although it can be faintly heard).
The newly developed Gruber Assist bicycle drive consists of five components:
- Miniature push-button
- Electronic control – installed in the seat post
- 200 watt drive unit with free-wheel
- Lithium-Ion Manganese (LiMn) battery pack 4.5 Ah / 30V or Lithium-Ion Manganese battery pack 6.75 AH / 30V
- External battery charger
The auxiliary drive, with a length of almost 8.5 inches and 200 watts of power, is permanently connected with the crank through a bevel gear unit. Not only is gear changing is still possible, but you are also able to use the motor assist through the pedals. This system has a 100% freewheel so that when the motor is not activated, the bike simply acts like a regular bike. When the system is on, the rider gets electrically boosted by the Gruber Assist, with 200 watts of extra power.
The entire drive unit (motor, gear, electronic control) weighs 900 grams. The Lithium-Ion Manganese battery, which fits into a conventional saddlebag, provides you with motor-assisted cycling that lasts for about 45 minutes (4.5 Ah), or 70 minutes (6.75 Ah), depending on how hard you pedal. It weights just 1000 grams, has a charge-level indicator and BMS. The special design of the drive unit allows it to be built into any bicycle frame set tube and is therefore invisible on the bicycle – except the on/off switch, which is unobtrusively located on the bar end.
Femke Van den Driessche incident, January 2016
A professional cyclist has been banned from competition for six years, and has to pay a significant fine (20,000 Swiss Francs), after it was discovered that the 19 year old Belgian was riding a bicycle with a hidden electric motor. The device was discovered when officials began using a “magnetic resonance scanner” to examine the bicycle frames…”According to reports, those methods involve scanning for radio frequencies that match electric motors”
It was discovered in an “under 23” age group cyclocross competition for women, with Van den Driessche riding for Team Kleur op Maat (a design and home decorating business). The bike experienced mechanical problems (pictures of the event show the rear wheel out of the frame), and Van den Driessche had to jog with the bike to the finish line, which was won by Britain’s Evie Richards.
Van den Driessche claimed that the bike belonged to a training partner who used the motor to help accompany her during training, and that it is almost identical externally, so the team mechanic gave her the wrong bike to use in the competition by accident.
Thermal Imaging incident in March 2016
During a Cycling race in Italy around March of 2016, a television camera crew used a disguised Forward Looking Infra Red (FLIR) camera, in order to detect if there was any unexplainable heat-signature, which might indicate a hidden electric motor was being used. They declined to reveal who had been in the images, but six riders had a suspicious heat image, with a warm lower seat-tube. Here is a screen-grab from the article in this link.
Here is a link to a video from France showing moving images of race bicycle heat images.
Written by Eric, June 2012